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Call for Nominations for the 2013 Meeto Memorial Award #mustshare

ANHAD (Act Now for Harmony and Democracy) and Sangat, a South Asian feminist network, are now inviting nominations for the Meeto Memorial Award for the year 2013. Please read the following before you send nomination/s:

About Meeto

Meeto (Kamaljit Bhasin-Malik; 1978-2006) was a scholar, activist and dancer. She graduated with first class honours in History from Stephen’s College. With the Radhakrishnan-British Chevening Scholarship, she studied History in Oxford University and graduated with a first class honours. Meeto’s pre-doctoral research at Oxford was tragically interrupted by her passing away in 2006. Her work In the Making Identity Formation in South Asia is published by the Three Essays Collective.

Meeto researched and wrote on projects ranging from the refugee problem in post-Partition Punjab to the role of parliamentarians in Indian democracy and the role of the colonial census in creating monolithic identities in Sri Lanka.

Meeto also was the first primary coordinator of SAHR (South Asians for Human Rights) and helped organize the first general convention of SAHR in Rajasthan. Between 2003 and mid-2004, she worked as a programme associate at the Ford Foundation in Delhi working on human rights and development issues.

As a dancer, Meeto performed with Leela Samson’s dance production Spanda across India and in Bangladesh.

Meeto’s academic and professional interests were at one with the way she lived. She revelled in the aesthetic traditions of the multiple religious and cultural traditions to which she was an heir as a South Asian citizen.

The Award

In 2009, Kamla Bhasin, Meeto’s mother, instituted an award in Meeto’s memory to honour young South Asians whose work demonstrates a commitment to communal harmony, peace, justice and human rights.

Meeto Memorial Awardees

2012 Mitwa Fellowships In 2012 the Meeto Memorial Awards/ Mitwa Fellowhisps were given to three women activists Germi Roy, Violet and Seeta Leen from a federation of fisherfolk on the Kerala coast. THE Awards Selection Committee decided to give a Mitwa fellowship to three grassroots activists to support their grassroots activism so they are able to make a difference to society. These fellowships will be given alternatively to the Meeto Memorial Awards in order to support activists http://www.meetomemorialaward.org/a…

2011 Azra Jafri (from Afghanistan), she is Afghanistan’s first and only woman mayor. You may read more about her work at the following linkhttp://www.meetomemorialaward.org/a… to view pictures of the event, click here http://sangatsouthasia.org/photogal…

2010 Akeela Naz (from Pakistan) the persona behind the ‘Thapa force’, an army of protesting women farmers, to read more about her work, click the following link http://www.meetomemorialaward.org/a… to view pictures of the event please see http://sangatsouthasia.org/photogal…

2009 Anusheh Anadil (from Bangladesh) and Laxmi Ben Vankar (from India). You can read about them and their work onhttp://www.meetomemorialaward.org/a… to view pictures of the event please see: http://sangatsouthasia.org/photogal…

The Award comprises of Indian Rupees one lakh, a citation and a memento. If more than one person is selected, the money will be shared. The recipients will be invited to present their work at the award ceremony. The Award will be announced in October every year. The recipients of the Award will be chosen by a selection committee whose decision will be final.

To be eligible, nominees must be:

Under the age of 40

Citizens of a South Asian country (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka)

Working on issues of communal harmony, peace, justice and/or human rights, broadly conceived; the nominee may be working anywhere in the world, but the focus of the work should be on South Asia as defined above

Working in any capacity in the field of activism, advocacy, academia, and journalism, and in any medium such as writing, art, dance, music, film, and theatre.

Individuals can nominate themselves or other eligible people.

Nominations must be sent in writing, and accompanied by a detailed CV of the nominated person, a note on reasons for nomination and a duly filled form

Nominations must be received before 30 September 2013 and should be sent to:

Email : [email protected] or [email protected]

or be posted at

Meeto Memorial Award Secretariat

C/o ANHAD C 5 , Basement, Nizammudin West, New Delhi 110013 (India)

The nominations will be judged by the Advisory Committee of the Meeto Memorial Award which comprises the following individuals:

Asma Jahangir, Pakistan Hameeda Hossain, Bangladesh Sithie Tiruchelvam, Sri Lanka Syeda Hameed, India Sadanand Menon, India Anusha Lall, India Rahul Rao, India/UK Kamla Bhasin, India

 

downlaod form here- http://www.meetomemorialaward.org/IMG/pdf/Nomination_Form_2013_Meeto_memorial_Award_for_Young_South_Asians.pdf

 

 

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Statement Condemning the Maoist Politics of Murder in Chhattisgarh

Statement Condemning the Maoist Politics of Murder in Chhattisgarh!

We, the undersigned, strongly condemn the horrific massacre of leaders
and workers of the Congress Party and the security forces accompanying
them, carried out by the CPI(Maoist) in Chhattisgarh on Saturday. We
also wish to express our deepest condolences to the families of all
those killed in the convoy of Congressmen returning from an election
rally at Sukma in Bastar district.

The killing of senior state Congress leaders and their cadre is
particularly barbaric and reprehensible as they had, in the course of
the Maoist ambush, become captives or had surrendered voluntarily.
This is tantamount to cold-blooded murder of prisoners in custody, an
act that goes against all norms even in a state of civil or
international war. The targeting of a political party in this fashion
by the Maoists is also highly disturbing.

The latest Maoist action will only invite even more state repression
in the area that might as well swell the numbers of CPI(Maoists). If
that is the case then this politics is as evil as that it claims to be
fighting against and should be shunned by all those who stand for
democratic norms in political struggles for peace with justice.

We call upon the state and central governments to exercise great
restraint in their response to the Maoist atrocity.  It is high time
the spiral of violence in the tribal belt of Chhattisgarh be stopped
as it has already claimed innumerable lives.

Abha Dev Habib, Associate Professor, Miranda House, DU

Apoorvanand, Professor, Delhi University

Anivar Arvind, IT Engineer, Bangalore

Arshad Ajmal, Social activist, Patna

Dilip Simeon, Academic, New Delhi

Jagadish, Trade Unionist , Bangalore

Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Human Rights Activist, Mumbai

Kavita Srivastava, PUCL, Rajasthan

Satya Sivaraman, Journalist, New Delhi

Shabnam Hashmi, ANHAD, Delhi

Vinod Raina , Educationist, Delhi

Also Endorsed by .

Arati Choksi, PUCL, Karnataka, Bangalor

Reetika Khera, Associate Professor, IIT Delhi

Dr Sunil Kaul, Public Health Activist,

Dheeraj, Coordinator, The Right to Food Campaign

Biraj Patnaik, Social Scientist with the Right to Food Campaign

Trideep, Advocate, Delhi High Court and Supreme Court,

Sachin Kumar Jain, Journalist and Writer with Vikas Samwaad

Radha Holla, Public Health Activist, Breast Feeding Promotion Network of India

Gurjeet Singh, Right to Food Activist, Ranchi, Jharkhand

Father Jothi, SJ, Social Activist, West Bengal

Prem Krishan Sharma, President, PUCL, Rajasthan, Jaipur

Radha Kant Saxena, VP pUCL, Rajasthan, Jaipur

DL Tripathi, VP, PUCL Rajasthan, Ajmer

Anant Bhatnagar, Organising Secretary, PUCL Rajasthan, Ajmer

Sawai Singh, Rajasthan Smagra Sewa Sangh, Jaipur

Endorsed, also by

Harsh Mander, Director Centre for Equity Studies

RAjinder Sachar, EX Chief Justice Delhi and Sikkim High Court

Arundhati Dhuru, NAPM convenor

Aruna Roy,Nikhil Dey, Shankar Singh, Lal Singh, Bhanwar Meghwanshi,
Narayan Singh

Shail Mayaram, Senior Fellow,CSDS. , Ps change wars to the singular if you can

Anjali Bhardwaj, NCPRI National Convenor

Vidya bhushan Rawat, Social Activist

Suman Sahai, Gene Campaign

Saito Basumatry, People’s ForumAssam

Sejal Dhand, Anna Adhikar Suraksha Manch

 

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Dhule riots: ‘Cops allowed minor incident to escalate into communal clash’

Fact Finding Report By Concerned Citizens

19 January, 2013

Dhule has been in news for past 10 days. It has been reported in the media that, a small altercation in Dhule led to an event leading to violence between Hindus and Muslims. As such death of 6 innocent youth and injuries to several more and massive loss of properties, burning of houses has taken place. The worst part of the episode is that all this has taken place with police force being very much around. Contrary to official reports, the people in the area stated that the behavior of police was very biased against the Muslim minorities. All the youth who died were Muslims. Most of the houses which were burnt belonged to the Muslims.

In the light of the disturbing reports and communications from the local activists we decided that a citizen fact finding committee should visit the Dhule, to investigate and present the facts objectively.

The citizens Fact Finding Committee consisting, of Shabnam Hashmi- social activist ,ANHAD Delhi, Prof Ram Puniyani of All India Secular Forum, Prof Apoorvanand of Delhi University, Adv Nihalsing B Rathod- Human Rights Law Network, Manan Trivedi, Dev Desai, Tanvi Soni, Arma from ANHAD, Gujarat and Azhar from Jalgaon, visited Dhule on 13th and 14th January 2013.

The Committee met several social, religious and political activists, government officials including the district magistrate, victims, families of the deceased and injured, and the people from different walks of life. It also visited the spot of the incident; the affected areas and the Hospitals on 14th January 2013. The committee procured the recordings of the violence which had taken place in the city. This report is based on the testimonies of these people, the records from the hospitals and its own observation in the area where houses have been burnt.

The committee found that the affected area, which was constantly referred as minority area was barricaded to separate it from the Hindu dominated areas. We found temporary police posts on the other side of the barricades (Hindu Majority area). We were told that the curfew which was enforced after the violence; was now relaxed from 9am to 5pm. Police did not prevent people from crossing the barricades from either side. Outwardly life looked normal. We were told that curfew had affected the livelihood of people who worked in the power looms which is the main source of living for majority of the Muslims as work had to be stopped at 5 in the evening. In normal times the power looms kept working round the clock. We also found that even in normal times the area also suffered from huge load shedding, making it impossible for the power looms to work. The stoppage of work is leading to the disruption of life.

There were differing versions of the cause of violence on 6 January. We were told that it was largely a result of the insensitive handing of a minor quarrel by the police. It was clear from the statements of both Hindus and Muslims that tension could have been diffused easily had police taken proper steps to diffuse the tension, which was building up. It did not intervene and told the people to settle the dispute by themselves. The police allowed crowds to assemble from both sides. One can see from the recordings that mobs which assembled started confronting each other with stones. We were also told that the first incidence took place at around 2 to 2.15 pm and mobs from both sides started assembling soon after that. It is clear that both Hindus and Muslims had indulged in stone throwing. What is perplexing is that the police decided to move into the Muslims areas with Hindu mob behind them. Police started firing indiscriminately at Muslims.

As per the testimony of victims and eyewitnesses the police did not make any primary effort to disperse the crowds. It did not use public address system to alert the crowd, nor did it use lathi or teargas shells before going for firing. The residents felt very aggrieved that the police resorted to firing in response to stone throwing. It was reported that the firing lasted for more than two hours and was stopped around 6.30 PM. This point was confirmed by the District Magistrate.

The police firing was intended not to disperse the mob. All the bullet injuries are above the knee, in the abdomen, chest, neck, back and face. The attitude of the police against Muslims is also evident from the recordings as they are found pounding on the motorcycles in the curfew hours when there was nobody on the streets. Media reported and District Collector told us that the police had no option but to open fire as they were attacked with lethal chemicals and many of them suffered grievous injuries when they were trying to control the mobs. This claim is not supported by the Civil hospital record which describes the injuries suffered by the police personnel as minor who were discharged after first aid and there are just a very few cases of minor burn injuries..

Forty two people suffered bullet injuries, six died. Legs of two of the injured had to be amputated. None of the injured went to the civil hospital. We were told that the Muslims avoid going to civil hospital due to their experience of experience of the 2008 riots. In 2008 Muslims were attacked by Hindus when they tried to go to the civil hospital as it falls in a Hindu dominated locality. Due to the experience of 2008 this time, all the injured were taken to private hospitals.

It was reported that none of the injured was taken to the hospital by the police. We were also told by the relatives of those killed that they were not allowed to lodge FIRs. They were told that the deceased had already been made accused and were treated as rioters. The injured have not been able to muster courage to file FIRs, nor have the owners of the damaged property been able to do so.

More than 35 Muslim houses were looted, burnt and destroyed. Destruction of these houses was complete. All of it seems to have been done with clinical precision. We also found four Hindu households burnt, one of them burnt totally. While Muslims are ready to name the attackers, Hindus told us that they did not want to name anybody although they know the attackers.

The looting, burning and destruction of Muslim houses was done by mobs under the protection of the police. In one of the recordings, a senior police officer is seen exhorting the mobs to move forward and attack. The police is also seen standing silently while houses are being burnt. What the police did was to drive away the Muslims by firing, leaving their houses unprotected and vulnerable.

It was also reported that the area of incident and firing was cleaned with water the very next day without any Panchnama having been made.

We found no evidence of relief being provided to the uprooted families who had to flee bare handed from their houses. The DM told us that they were provided with ration through NGOs but was unable to explain how the ration was supposed to be cooked as the victims had no utensils with them to cook it. He also found it natural and sufficient that they were being taken care of by the community-fellows and there was no special need for administration to pitch in.

The fact that when our committee visited the area neither the chief minister, nor the home minister felt it necessary to pay a visit to Dhule in the wake of this violence. This fact has made the Muslims very bitter. Several calls to offices of the CM and HM for an appointment by the Fact Finding Committee yielded no results. Muslims feel uncared for and left to fend for themselves. The announcement by a section of the business community, engineers and lawyers that the police action should not be investigated has also made them wary. More than compensation, they want justice to be done and with these threats they feel that justice might be compromised. The political process of confidence building is absent leaving the field open for all kinds to forces to fill the void. It should be a matter of concern that since 2008, this has been the third major violence and Muslims feel that they are being hounded by the police. The fact, as reported by many; that the constables have not been transferred for more than fifteen years is also to be noted. It is evident that the police is biased against the Muslims and all minds of anti-Muslim stereotypes impact their mindset and action.

Dhule, despite ‘only’ six deaths is a mirror to the nation and our response would also show whether there exists a social, civil and political resolve to protect the constitutional rights of minorities in India or not.

FINDINGS:

1. This violence could have been prevented, had the police acted in time.

2. While stone pelting was done by members of both the communities, the police action was selective and directed against Muslims only.

3. The police did not follow the prescribed protocol to control the mob. Police firing was excessive and was done with an intent to kill.

4. All bullets were above the knee, majority of the bullets were above the waist, many of them in the chest, neck and face. All six deaths were because of the police firing.

5. Majority of the victims of the police firing were left unattended by the police and were taken to hospitals by friends.

6. 159 police personnel were taken to the hospital out of which only 18 were admitted is evident from the record of the civil hospital (attached with this report). All the injuries suffered by the police were minor in nature due to stone pelting.

7. The burning and looting of Muslim household and shops was done by the Hindu mobs in presence of the police personnel and killings were done by the police. From the video footage obtained by us it is clear that Police also indulged in burning Muslim houses and destroying their property.

8. Fire Brigade was not allowed to come to the Muslim locality to douse the fire.

9. No relief camps were set up for those Muslims and Hindus who lost their houses (approximately 40 Muslim families and 4 Hindu families), no immediate relief provided by the State. Some food grains were distributed by the Red Cross.

10. The victims were threatened when they tried to register FIRs and no FIRs were registered.

DEMANDS

1. IMMEDIATE COMMISSIONING OF JUDICIAL ENQUIRY INTO THE WHOLE INCIDENT OF JANUARY 6, 2013 IN DHULE, MAHARASHTRA WITH ESPECIAL FOCUS ON ROLE OF THE POLICE.

2. SUSPENSION OF THE DM , SP AND OTHER OFFICERS RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR ACTS OF OMMISSION AND COMMISSION WITH IMMEDIATE EFFECT

3. ANNOUNCEMENTOF RELIEF AND REHABILITATION PACKAGE INCLUDING THE OPENING OF A RELIEF CAMP IMMEDIATELY FOR THOSE WHOSE
HOUSES HAVE BEEN UPROOTED (25 LAKHS TO THE NEXT OF KIN OF THOSE KILLED, 15 LAKHS FOR THOSE DISABLED FOR LIFE, 10 LAKHS FOR THOSE INJURED WITH POLICE BULLETS, SUITABLE COMPENSATION TO THOSE WHOSE HOUSES, PROPERTY, BUSINESS HAS BEEN BURNT, LOOTED, DESTROYED AFTER ASSESSMENT BY A COMPETENT AGENCY ALONG WITH MEMBERS OF CIVIL SOCIETY AND NGOS).

4. PROSECUTION OF ALL THOSE POLICEMEN WHO ARE INVOLVED IN KILLING PEOPLE AND DESTROYING THEIR PROPERTY.

5. GOVERNMENT JOB TO ONE PERSON IN THE FAMILY OF THOSE KILLED / disabled for life IN POLICE BULLETS.

6. IMMEDIATE LODGING OF FIRs IN ALL CASES OF DEATH, INJURED, PROPERTY LOSS ETC.

7. IMPLEMENTATION OF TRANSFERPOLICY FOR THE POLICEPERSONNALE WHICH HAS BEENTOTALLY DISREGARDED IN DHULE.

8. ESTABLISHMENT OF AN EXTENTION CENTRE OF THE GOVERNMENTHOSPITAL WITH ALL FACILITIES IN THE MUSLIM DOMINATED AREA.

9. LIFTING OF CURFEW WITH IMMEDIATE EFFECT AND RESUMPTION OF NORMAL WORKING HOURS ESPECIALLY IN POWER LOOM SECTOR.

10. SETTING UP OF A COMMITTEE TO STUDY THE DEVELOPMENT NEEDS OF THE CITY INCLUDING JOB OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUTH.

11. IMMEDIATE STEPS TO BE TAKEN TO DE-TOXIFY THE MINDSETS OF THE POLICE AT THE STATE LEVEL, PROGRAMMES TO SENSITISE THEM ON CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS, DEMOCRACY, SECULaRALISM.

12. TO INVITE NATIONAL NGOS WORKING ON COMMUNAL HARMONY TO HELP SET UP A STRUCTURE AT THE LEVEL OF MOHALLAS FOR REGULARINTERACTION OF LOCAL PEOPLE ANDLEADERS OF ALL COMMUNITIES, FORMATION OF MOHALLA COMMITTEES.

 

 

Dhule riots: 'Cops allowed minor incident to escalate into communal clash'
New Delhi: The “communalism” of the “State machinery” allowed to escalate the communal violence in Dhule town of Maharashtra, alleged activists during a press conference here on Friday. The local police “systematically targeted Muslims” during the January 6 riots, in which six people were killed, they said.
A fact finding team comprising — rights activist Shabnam Hashmi from ANHAD, Dr Ram Puniyani of All India Secular Forum, Professor Apoorva Anand of Delhi University, Advocate Nihalsing Rathod of Human Rights Law Network and several others — visited the town to investigate the violence, the third in the region since 2008.
According to the interim report of the fact-finding team, the police allowed a minor incident to escalate into a riot-like situation. “They intervened very late. And when they did, they targeted only Muslims,” said Shabnam Hashmi.
As per testimonies collected by the team, the incident was triggered after a Muslim auto driver was beaten by the owner of an eatery in Macchi Bazar. “When the driver went to the police station to file a complaint, the officials were hostile and did not register his complaint, following which a mob gathered and people started pelting stones,” said Hashmi. “It was not a Hindu-Muslim issue, but the police only let the violence escalate,” she said.
The activists alleged connivance by the State machinery in the escalation of violence. “Why did it take the Chief Minister and the Home Minister nine days to visit the victims and order a judicial inquiry? There is a great sense of alienation and frustration among the Muslim community due to the callous response of the State,” Prof Apoorvanand said.
He said that the locals were afraid to even file a case. In the rare event of some victims gathering the courage to act, they were told by the police that a case had already been registered naming them as the accused and they could not, therefore, file a case.
He said fear within the community was so palpable that the victims refused to go to the civil hospital because riot victims in 2008 were allegedly beaten and driven away by some members of the majority community.
“The Dhule incident mirrors our society. If it is not taken seriously, the country will face a very severe struggle,” said Apoorvanand.
Speaking on this occasion, Dr Ram Puniyani said, “The incident shows the communalisation of the State machinery. The police launched an inhuman, one-sided attack on the members of the minority community.”
H said, “A total of 151 police personnel were taken to the hospital on January 6 of which 133 were discharged immediately, and all cases were described as minor.”
“When we checked the medical records of the victims, we noticed that the bullet injuries were above the waist in 90 percent of the cases. The police did not aim to disperse the crowd. It was targeted killing,” said Dr Puniyani.
“It is time to put the police in the psychiatric couch to understand what makes them brutally attack the minorities,” said film director Mahesh Bhatt. “The mindset of the entire police force is contaminated and reflects a fascist attitude,” he said.

 

 

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Arnab Goswami, cannot stand a ‘ NO”- Harassing, Stalking, Blackmailing- ANHAD #Timesnow #Shame

PUBLIC STATEMENT by  SHABNAM HASHMI, OF ANHAD

I was in Gujarat for over six months and returned to Delhi two weeks ago. While in Gujarat I was asked to appear on different television channels constantly. On one such talk show on Times Now I felt that I was especially being pushed into a corner and it was an absolutely unbalanced panel, I told the Times Now guest coordinator that I will not come on the channel any longer. It continued for about a week or so. Then a representative came from Mumbai and met me in Gujarat office and ensured that it will not happen in future and requested me to come for the Talk Shows.

I agreed and went again whenever I was called.
On December 28, 2012 I released a public statement in Delhi regarding the Gujarat Verdict 2012 and resigned from various UPA committees that I was part of. On the same day I was invited to Times Now and I found the same attitude of being highly aggressive towards me.

January 2, 2013 -I filed a police complaint against Mr Akbaruddin Owaisi in Parliament Street Police Station against the hate speech which he made in Andhra Pradesh. I was called on Times Now and met the same uncivilized and aggressive behavior.

On January 4, 2013 I put the status on my facebook ‘TIMES NOW- MY STATUS- NOT AVAILABLE-GOODBYE MR ARNAB GOSWAMI– SORRY FOR DENYING YOU THE PLEASURE OF BEING THE ‘CONSCIENCE KEEPER’.

All hell seems to have broken out since then. I have been receiving calls after calls from various Times Now reporters. They have barged into Anhad several times, threatening to do stories against Anhad and me.

Anhad has been running from 23, Canning Lane’s Garage for 5 years now. There have been over 30-40 press conferences big and small at Anhad itself attended by all media fraternity including reporters from Times Now. Times Now reporters have come and taken my interviews in this office tens of times, they have attended press conferences, sent their ob vans and pick up cars for Talk Show.

They have suddenly come up with the new evidence Now that Anhad runs from 23, Canning Lane, New Delhi which is Dr Syeda Hamid’s garage.

Despite being informed by my colleagues that the garage was provided to us free, they have asked me the same question four times-How much money you pay?

Anhad has been a space where scores of journalists and media friends have come and visited. We have always respected the media and continue to do so and Anhad has received tremendous support from the media fraternity across India and we greatly value and respect that.

Yes, Anhad runs out of 23, Canning lane, New Delhi-110001, Yes we have FCRA, we raise resources through funding agencies both foreign and Indian, from friends and corporates, Yes we have taken on fundamentalists of all hues.

This is the first time that we are faced with a situation where I personally in 32 years of my grass root activism and Anhad as an organisation in its 10 yrs of work feel being harassed, stalked, and blackmailed. 

Shabnam Hashmi
January 10, 2012

 

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Muslim- Prejudice -‘Justice came to me only to make me realise that I was guilty until proven innocent’

 

Mohammad Aamir, Delhi
Age 32 | Years In Jail 14
Arrested February 1998 | Acquitted January 2012

Mohammad Aamir

Photo: Ishan Tankha

FOURTEEN YEARS is a long time. Wiping away the tears streaming down his cheeks, Mohammad Aamir recounts his experience of when he stepped out of the Rohtak Jail on 9 January 2012.

The world seemed different. The guards were gone. So was the feeling of iron always chaining his limbs. “That was real freedom. I tasted it. I wept and cried in happiness. After three hours of riding a bus, I was home hugging my mother,” he says. But the Delhi Aamir knew had changed. Mobile phones, the Metro rail, roads, flyovers, buildings and bazaars — everything was new. The only old thing was his crumbling house.

“After seeing my mother, I went to see my father’s grave. He died waiting for my release,” Aamir says.

Forgotten by the press during his 14-year incarceration in jails across three states, Mohammad Aamir of old Delhi became their favourite after being acquitted in 18 of 20 cases of terrorism (appeals made in two other cases are pending).

Now, as he sits quietly before a computer in the office of ANHAD, an NGO in central Delhi, Aamir, 32, is penning a memoir of his passage from incarceration to redemption. Fourteen years behind bars have cost him much more than his youth. Not only did he lose his father, his mother was also paralysed in the interim.

In 1996-97, a couple of low intensity blasts had hit the national capital region (NCR), leaving the police in a tizzy. This was the time when the Khalistan movement in Punjab was fading and the Kashmir insurgency was at its pinnacle. The homegrown Indian Mujahideen (IM) was, however, nowhere in the arena. The police had no strong lead to follow. Then, in what looks like a meticulous plan to frame a young boy, the police claimed to have busted a terror module in February 1998.

Aamir was seized when he was returning home after saying Isha prayers. Bundled into a jeep, he was blindfolded before being dumped in an unidentified place for seven days, where he was tortured and made to sign on blank papers.

On 28 February, he was produced in the Tis Hazari court, charged with 17 cases in Delhi, including murder, sedition and waging war against the Indian State. Among the charges were two blasts in Haryana and one in 1996, on the Frontier Mail (train) in Ghaziabad.

“Getting me justice wasn’t easy for my father,” says Aamir. “Lawyers who would agree to fight cases charged a lot of money. Some quit midway after a local paper dubbed me a Pakistani national.

One by one, the prosecution evidence was disproved in the courts. But it was too late,” he rues. “My father died in 2001. The way justice was done only made me realise that I was guilty until proven innocent,” Aamir adds mockingly.

Now, at ANHAD’s office, Aamir hopes to finish his memoir and heads a forum for demanding the rehabilitation of falsely implicated youth.

Explains activist Shabnam Hashmi of ANHAD: “Writing a memoir is a healing process for Aamir. He is finishing his BA from IGNOU and aims to study law to help people like him.”

Aamir’s efforts have already started paying off. This is evident from the recently prepared list of 33 young men that now lies with the president.

The CPM demanded compensation for these men, special courts to settle such cases within a year and action against policemen found fabricating evidences.

Baba Umar is a Senior Correspondent with Tehelka.
[email protected]

 

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Lawyers, Activists Condemn the Arrest of Adv. Shahnawas and demand his immediate release

May 3, 2012 New Delhi: Several activists, lawyers and academicians, in a statement have condemned the arrest of Advocate Shahnawas on Monday by the Kerala Police in Trivandrum.

 

Here is the statement:    

 

The undersigned condemn in strongest terms the arrest of Advocate Shahnawas, a leading human rights activist of Kerala. Advocate Shahnawas, who lives and practices in Trivandrum, was arrested on 1st May 2012, and his office raided and his files seized by the Crime Branch of the state. Ostensibly, his arrest has been made by the “Hi-tech Cell” of the Kerala Crime Branch for conspiring to leak intelligence communication in the infamous Email surveillance scandal that rocked the state a few months ago—where a leading daily of the state has alleged that the Hi-tech Cell was snooping on the emails of nearly 250 Muslim individuals and institutions. It cannot escape our attention that the arrest and raid were made on the eve of the SIMI Tribunal sitting in Kerala. Advocate Shahnawas has been assisting the SIMI lawyers in the Tribunal for the past many years and was also due to assist now.

 

Shahnwas’s arrest comes after Ghalib’s verses were blamed for instigating members of the banned group SIMI and a children’s magazine, Umang published by the Delhi Urdu Academy was cited as incriminating material in an affidavit seeking extension of the ban on SIMI. This follows the condemning of dozens of organizations, including one that hosted AIMPLB convention in Mumbai, as ‘fronts for SIMI’.

 

The arrest of Advocate Shahnawas is an attack on the very process of law and an attempt to stifle the voice of dissent. Targeting and implicating lawyers in spurious cases encroaches upon the right to access legal aid without fear. It is a clear attempt to also demoralize and intimidate Advocate Shahnwas’s clients—many of them victims of a communal witch-hunt.

 

We demand that he be released immediately and all his files and work related documents be returned without any conditions.

Sd/-

Abu Zafar, Journalist

Ajit Sahi, senior journalist

Anil Tharayath Varghese, Delhi Solidarity Group

BT Venketesh, Advocate, Bangalore

Feroze Khan Ghazi, South Asian Minorities Lawyers Association (SAMLA)

Gauhar Iqbal, Social Activist, Delhi

Hany Babu, Delhi University

Imran Ali, Advocate, Delhi

Jawahar Raja, Advocate, Delhi

Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Mumbai

Kashif-ul-Huda, Editor, TwoCircles.net

Kavita Srivastava, PUCL

Mahtab Alam, Human Rights activist and journalist

Mansi Sharma, activist

Mayur Suresh, Advocate, Delhi

Mukul Dube, Columnist and Writer

N.D. Pancholi, Advocate, Delhi

Savad Rahman, Journalist, Kerala

Shabnam Hashmi, ANHAD

Shankar Gopalakrishnan, Campaign for Survival and Dignity (in individual capacity)

Seema Mustafa, senior journalist

SQR Illyas, Welfare Party

Trideep Pais, Advocate, Delhi

Zafarul-Islam Khan, Editor, The Milli Gazette

 

Released by Manisha Sethi, Adeel Mehdi, Ahmed Sohaib, Sanghamitra Misra and others for Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association (JTSA)

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